Skip to main content
Responsible Marketing

Big ideas, tiny budgets

By July 10, 2008July 23rd, 20202 Comments

Breakthrough creative agitates. It makes people uneasy, or angry. It might make you laugh or cry. And it always makes people feel—or think. Or both.

But breakthrough creative doesn’t happen often enough.

The excuse I’ve heard most often is “We don’t have the budget.”

Well, some of the best marketing you’ll find doesn’t necessarily come from the largest, best-funded companies in the world.

To the contrary, some of the best stuff being done today is coming from the last place you’d expect it: public service announcements (PSA’s) from governmental entities and from non-profits—two groups with smaller budgets.

That’s why I often say:

A big idea and a tiny budget is better than
a tiny idea and a big budget.

Three examples:

In “Teenage affluenza is spreading fast,” World Vision produced a video that contrasts the lives of suburban children with those in the developing world. The video was created to drive kids to (Australia) or (USA), and ultimately “do something else,” “do something real,” and just “do something.”

The next video includes a series of five ads. In them, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario explains that most workplace accidents are avoidable—by introducing you to workers, then showing them injured or killed in graphic workplace accidents.

Here’s a :30 second spot that will lighten things up a bit. I won’t spoil it by sharing what it’s about.

I’ve shared other breakthrough (and sometimes questionable) ads from MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation, Charity Water, Transport for London, PETA and a few others.

While the production of these videos surely wasn’t free, they were created with relatively small budgets.

  • A small budget forces you to be creative to get attention.
  • A small budget means you won’t get the eyeballs or earbones that better-funded for-profits get so you have to make every impression count.
  • A small budget puts a premium on the idea.
  • You can break through without a big budget. But you’ll never break though if you shortchange the idea.

    What’s your take?

    Comment below to weigh in.

    . . .

    Jeremy Tanner (@penguin on twitter) shared the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario ads with me. Thanks Jeremy!

    Join the discussion 2 Comments

    • Jed says:

      The Australian ad had me laughing and then, suddenly, sobbing. So powerful.

      I only made it through a few seconds of the Canadian piece. I think I’m going to have nightmares. Effective though!

    • Steve says:

      Hi Patrick,

      Thanks for your feedback on the Affluenza video. We’re very proud of it. I tweeted yout his as well, but we have a few more video’s on the way and would love to get some feedback from you when they are ready.

      Keep up the good work, we love your blog around here.



    Leave a Reply